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Mississippi State women’s basketball begins conference play Sunday

Tipoff at South Carolina is set for 5 p.m. CT.

Denae Carter battles South Carolina State on Dec. 20, 2021
Austin Perryman/MSU Athletics

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Mississippi State women’s basketball team will now play its first Southeastern Conference game of the 2021-22 season on Sunday at No. 1 South Carolina, traveling to Columbia to for a 5 p.m. CT tipoff at Colonial Life Arena. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network+.

MSU was originally scheduled to play at home on Thursday and in Lexington, Kentucky, on Monday, but both of those games were postponed due to COVID-19 protocols. South Carolina was originally scheduled to host Ole Miss on Sunday, but that game will now be rescheduled due to COVID protocols in the Ole Miss program. Sunday’s game between the Bulldogs and Gamecocks was moved up from the scheduled Feb. 6 date.

The Bulldogs are coming off of an 85-47 win over South Carolina State on Dec. 20. MSU completed its nonconference schedule with a record of 9-3, notching a 7-1 record at home and 2-2 on the road or at neutral sites. Junior forward Rickea Jackson leads the Bulldogs in scoring and is tied for ninth in the country with 21.3 points per game. Redshirt senior guard Myah Taylor ranks sixth in the country and first in the SEC with 6.5 assists per game. Taylor also ranks fourth in the country and third in the SEC with a 3.71 assist-to-turnover ratio.

As a team, the Bulldogs rank 11th in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio. Despite lacking size, MSU ranks second in the country and in the SEC to South Carolina with 7.7 blocks per game. The Bulldogs are tied for fifth in the country and are second in the SEC with 16.8 offensive rebounds per game. MSU also makes just 10.9 turnovers per game, good for fourth best in the country and tops in the SEC.

The Gamecocks (12-1, 0-1 SEC) are coming off of a shocking 70-69 loss at Missouri on Thursday in their SEC opener. Prior to that game, South Carolina had reeled off victories over six ranked opponents in nonconference play, including top-five teams North Carolina State, Connecticut and Stanford.

The Gamecocks are led by national player of the year candidate Aliyah Boston, who is 11th in the nation with seven double-doubles this season. Boston leads South Carolina in scoring with 17.0 points per game and in rebounds with 10.3 per game. She also ranks ninth in the nation and second in the SEC with 3.2 blocks per game.

The Gamecocks top the nation with 8.8 blocks per game and rank 15th in opponent field goal percentage, giving up shots at a 33.8% clip. South Carolina ranks 13th in the nation and third in the SEC with 16.2 offensive rebounds per game, leading to a rebound margin ranked second nationally of 16.8.

MSU posted a 5-7 SEC record for the 2020-21 season. South Carolina posted a 14-2 conference record and won the SEC Tournament in 2020-21, continuing a run that culminated in a Final Four loss to NCAA Tournament champion Stanford in the national semifinal game.

Under the leadership of head coach Dawn Staley, the Gamecocks have won every SEC Tournament since the 2013-14 season with the exception of the 2018-19 season when MSU won the SEC title. South Carolina holds a 24-19 lead in the series matchup. The Gamecocks won the most recent matchup 75-52 in January 2021.